In 1911 — a time when women and leadership were still rarely heard in the same sentence — the Loretto Sisters and the Sisters of St. Joseph began their work to advance the cause of women at St. Michael’s. As Deans and as professors, they served as key role models for future generations of women and offered an important voice in shaping the college as a place where women and men could pursue the same academic goals. Here are some of those groundbreaking women.

Deans and Notables: Loretto College

Mother Agatha O’Neill

Mother Agatha
Mother Agatha, 1842 – 1927

When Mother Agatha O’Neill entered the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1866, she had already attended the Toronto Normal School and graduated with a first-class certificate. Thus, when the Institute assumed responsibility for a school in Lindsay, Ont., where young women would be prepared to write the examinations of the provincial Department of Education, she was chosen to teach there as one of the nuns professionally qualified. As a result of her experience in Lindsay, she was determined to bring this standard of education to all the Loretto Academies. When she was given the responsibility of overseeing the educational preparation of the members of the Institute, she strongly promoted the higher education of our Sisters in order to obtain the required qualifications and certification for teaching at every level. She is fondly remembered in the community for her stance in this regard.

Mother Agatha was one of the first promoters of University Federation and was actively engaged in the community’s struggle to establish a college for Catholic women at the University of Toronto. She contributed to negotiations with the university and St. Michael’s College, which were finally successful when in 1911 an agreement was concluded between St. Michael’s and the two Catholic women’s schools in Toronto, Loretto Abbey and St. Joseph’s Academy. Female students could finally be enrolled in a Catholic college in the University of Toronto.

See Mother Agatha O’Neill’s profile in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Deans at Loretto College

Sr. Estelle Nolan

Dean: 1913-1932

Sr. Margarita O’Connor

Dean: 1913-1932

Mother St. Margaret Kelly

Dean: 1932-1937
1932-1945; 1947-1949

Mother Mary Aloysius Kerr

Dean: 1945-1947

Mother Boniface Hopkins

Dean: 1949-1955

Mother Angela (Marjorie) McKeownr

Dean: 1955-1959

Mother Mary Bernadette Culnan

Dean: 1959-1965

Mother St. Philomena Cassin

Dean: 1965-1967

Sr. Maria Lanthier

Dean: 1967-1971

Sr. Caroline Dawson

Dean: 1971-1975

Sr. Diane Bridges

Dean: 1975-1981

Sr. Mary Frances Jordan

Dean: 1981-1982

Sr. Lenore Sullivan

Dean: 1982-1983

Sr. Johanna D’Agostino

Dean: 1983-1986

Sr. Cate McBurney

Dean: 1986-1989

Sr. Kathleen Heffron

Dean: 1989-1992

Mary Hardie

Dean: 1992-1997

Laurelle LaVert

Dean: 1997-2001

Sr. Mary DiGirolamo

Dean: 2001-2004

Angela Convertini

Dean: 2004-

Faculty at Loretto College

Mother Estelle Nolan

1912-1914; 1919-1937

Mother Margarita O’Connor


Mother Lucilla Breen


Mother Athanasia Quinlivan


Mother Gertrude Gumpricht


Mother Dorothea Barry


Mother St. Clare McEachen


Mother St. Margaret Kelly


Mother Berchmans Doyle


Sr. St. Stanislaus McCardle, M.A.


Sr. St. Ivan McQuade, M.A.


Sr. Mary Aloysius Kerr, Ph.D.


Sr. St. Magdalen (Loretto) McIntyre, M.A.


Sr. Marcia Smyth, Ph.D.


Sr. Olga Warne, Ph.D.


Sr. Marion Norman, Ph.D.


Sr. St. Francis Nims, M.A.


Sr. Stella Marie (Esther Hanley), Ph.D.

1956-1957; 1959-1973;
St. Michael’s Library 1975-1994

Sr. Mary Madigan, Ph.D.

1972-1982; 1985-1988

Catherine Grisé

Catherine Grisé

Deans and Notables at St. Joseph’s College


Sr. Perpetua Whalen

Dean: 1911-1914; 1916-1929

Sr. Austin McKay Warnock

Dean: 1914-1916

Sr. St. John O’Malley

Dean: 1929-1933

Sr. Mary Augusta Murphy

Dean: 1933-1935

Sr. Bernard Tuffy

Dean: 1935-1941

Sr. Blandina Hitchen

Dean: 1948-1953

Sr. Geraldine Thompson

Dean: 1953-1960

Sr. St. Stephen O’Connor

Dean: 1960-1968

Sr. Janet Fraser

Dean: 1968-1974

Sr. Rita Marie McLean

Dean: 1974-1979

Sr. Jean Gove

Dean: 1979-1985

Sr. Mary Anne McCarthy

Dean: 1985-1992

Sr. Noel O’Neill

Dean: 1992-1993

Sr. Anne Delaney

Dean: 1993-1998

Sr. Anne Marie Marrin

Dean 1998-2006

Administrators at St. Joseph’s College

Sr. Claudette Loftus

Administrator: 1979-1997

Sr. Conrad Lauber

Administrator: 1997-2006

Faculty at St. Joseph’s College

Sr. Perpetua Whalen

History, English, German: 1911-1929

Sr. Austin McKay Warnock

Sr. Austin McKay Warnock

English: 1912-1916

Sr. St. John O'Malley

Sr. St. John O’Malley

Latin: 1916-1968

Sr. Mary Augusta Murphy

Sr. Mary Augusta Murphy

English: 1927-1929

Sr. Blandina Hitchen

Sr. Blandina Hitchen

Latin: 1941-1974

Sr. Geraldine Thompson

Sr. Geraldine Thompson

English: 1947-1976

Sr. St. Stephen O’Connor

Freshman Spanish: 1960-1974

Sr. Mary Agnes Murphy

Sr. Mary Agnes Murphy

French: 1914-1940

Sr. St. Charles McSweeney

Sr. St. Charles McSweeney

Latin: 1917-1922

Sr. Dominica Blake

Sr. Dominica Blake

English: 1926-1961

Sr. Marie Thérèse Larochelle

Sr. Marie Thérèse Larochelle

French: 1929-1971

 Sr. Mary Bernita Young

Sr. Mary Bernita Young

English: 1931-1949

Sr. St. Peter Gravel

Sr. St. Peter Gravel

French: 1935-1949

Sr. Corinne Meraw

Sr. Corinne Meraw


Sr. Eleanor Breen

Sr. Eleanor Breen

French: 1960-1974

Sr. Mary Arthur Knowlton

Sr. Mary Arthur Knowlton

English: 1962-1977

Sr. Mechtilde O’Mara

Classics: 1970-

Sr. Ellen Leonard

Theology: 1974-